It seems to me that the scriptures offer two types of revelations: (1) they reveal things you didn’t already know, and (2) they reveal that you didn’t know many of the things you thought you knew. Both kinds of revelation are pivotal. And each tends to depend on the other.
James Faulconer’s new series of books — The Book of Mormon Made Harder, The Doctrine and Covenants Made Harder, The Old Testament Made Harder, and The New Testament Made Harder (forthcoming) — can help on both of these fronts. Though, to be fair, they’re especially good at the latter.
The books are being published (and, in the case of the Doctrine Covenants volume, republished) by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute.
Each of the chapters in each of the books is pegged to the current Sunday School lessons. And each of the chapters consists entirely of study questions.
Each book contains hundreds of pages of questions – some textual, some exegetical, some theological – that can slow you to a crawl and make your scriptures harder to read.
Each of the books in the series begins with this immortal epigraph (truer today than ever before) from Johannes Climacus in Kierkegaard’s The Concluding Unscientific Postscript:
Wherever you look about you, in literature and life, you see the celebrated names and figures, the precious and much heralded men who are coming into prominence and are much talked about, the many benefactors of the age who know how to benefit mankind by making life easier and easier, some by railways, others by omnibuses and steamboats, others by telegraph, others by easily apprehended compendiums and short recitals of everything worth knowing, and finally the true benefactors of the age who make spiritual existence in virtue of thought easier and easier. . . . You must do something, but inasmuch as with your limited capacities it will be impossible to make anything easier than it has become, you must, with the same humanitarian enthusiasm as the others, undertake to make something harder.
You’ve suspected for a long time now that so much of what matters most risks being too smooth, too familiar, and too easy, that so much has been paved over flat (progress!) to make it easier to move from point A to point B without a thought for what lies between.
You might be right.
These books are a massive roadblock.
Get ready for some detours.
(Watch for the official announcement with links and sale information from the Maxwell Institute on July 22.)